A Quick Reference Guide for Start-up and Existing Small Businesses in Austin & San Antonio
- Personal Preparation
- Research and Focus
- Business Structure
- Business Plan
- Federal/State/Local Contracting Opportunities
- Marketing Strategies
- Funding Opportunities
- Additional Resources
Personal Preparation Resource
Before committing to starting a business, review your credit history, cash flow, collateral, and character references as well as your business management experience. The links below are guides to assist you in determining your ability to make a go of your business. The websites contain small business guides which are intended to serve as roadmaps for starting a business. They are both comprehensive and easy to use. They also contain numerous electronic links for additional information. These links contain business plan formats, financial plan formats and marketing plan formats.
This central site allows you to request a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Research and Focus
Check this website for information on how to conduct market analysis, develop marketing strategies, identify your competition and obtain templates to help with preparation of cash flow, breakeven, and collateral estimates. Online training is also available for conducting a marketing analysis, targeting markets, and protecting your business with patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Other useful sites include:
- Use for market research for B2B: www.hoovers.com
- Demographics: www.austintexas.gov/demographics
- Understand your market: www.sba.gov
Local libraries also have a wealth of information:
To do research on public library websites you will need a library card number to enter some of the research sections.
STARTING A BUSINESS IN TEXAS
Starting a business in Texas requires you to begin with a business plan and then follow the four steps outlined in this comprehensive document:
Determine Business Structure
All businesses must have a legal identity. Many factors must be considered when choosing the best form of business ownership. This SBA website provides an overview of your options: www.sba.gov.
If you choose to register as a sole proprietor, your business name must be on file with each county clerk‘s office. Register at:
County Clerk websites surrounding Austin:
- Travis: www.co.travis.tx.us 512-854-9188
- Williamson: www.wilco.org
- Hays: http://www.co.hays.tx.us
- Burnet: www.burnetcountytexas.org
- Bell: www.bellcountytx.com
County Clerk websites surrounding San Antonio:
To register as a corporation, apply to the Secretary of State.
- www.sos.state.tx.us / Phone: 512-463-5555
For legal advice contact the Austin Lawyer Referral Service
- www.austinlrs.com/ Phone: 512-472-8303
Or American Bar Association Network: www.abanet.org/legalservices
Federal Unemployment tax is part of a federal and state program under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). You report and pay FUTA tax separately from your social security and Medicare taxes and withheld tax.
Texas Workforce Commission Personnel Policies is excellent resource:
Use this document to classify your employee:
Payroll and Hiring Services: PayChex, Just works, Goodwill Staffing
CREATING A COMPLETE BUSINESS PLAN
Click on link to business tools to find templates for Business Plan, Cash Flow and other start up templates and workshops.
Business Plan Software
These sites provide sample plans to review:
FEDERAL, STATE and LOCAL CONTRACTING OPPORTUNITIES
SBA assists small companies gain access to federal contract set-asides
The HUBZONE (Historically Underutilized Business Zones) Contracting program encourages economic development in underutilized business zones. Learn more: www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting/contracting-suppor...
The WOSB Federal Contract Program provides greater access to federal contracting for economically disadvantaged women. Learn more: www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-small-business-program
The Office of Women s Ownership and Entrepreneurial Development is a component of Entrepreneurial Development s network of training and counseling services:
Click on forms to get HUB certification application:
The Small Disadvantaged Business Certification Program helps small business compete and participate in the federal contracting and subcontracting arena.
City of Austin Certification
Click on business & investment for links to doing business with the government:
The Score website has templates for marketing plans and other useful tools. Click on ‘Templates’ at www.score.org/marketing
Using Social Media for Marketing your Business
To understand more about social media marketing check out the following educational sites:
Using your Website for Marketing
Small Business Trends www.smallbiztrends.com
SEO free tool and guide: www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo
We recommend WordPress with the ‘Yoast’ SEO plugin installed to build your website or blog
Check out the rates for logo designs: www.freelancer.com
SBA loans are made by lending institutions: banks, credit unions and microlenders. Check SBA site for list of Certified, Preferred and Express Lenders.
Micro lenders are more willing to loan money to startup businesses. Interest rates are usually higher than for commercial banks and limit loan amounts to $50,000. The below sites are reputable micro lenders.
Alternative Lending Sites
Should I use credit cards to fund my business?
The Central Texas Angel Network provides quality early-stage investment opportunities for accredited Central Texas angel investors: www.centraltexasangelnetwork.com
State and local contracting opportunities should also be explored.
The IRS website provides information on starting, operating or closing a business, what taxes each form of business is required to pay and how to pay them. It also provides information on how to apply for Form SS-4: www.irs.gov
Census data on a variety of demographics: www.census.gov/compendia/statab/
This site talks about not only patents and trademarks, but also talks about copyrights. www.uspto.gov
For obtaining information about NAICS. www.census.gov/naics
Generates Profit and Loss statements for selected businesses, based on sales: www.bizstats.com
A quick reference to assist Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) www.co.travis.tx.us/purchasing/hub.asp
Sales Tax Permit 512-854-5282
Every sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or other organization going into business should call the office of the State Comptroller to determine if a Sales Tax Permit is required for the product you sell, rent, lease or for the service you render. There is no fee for this permit. www.window.state.tx.us/taxpermit/
Open a Separate Bank Account
Assemble all organization paperwork and EIN or Social Security Number. This will help keep business records from becoming mixed with personal records. It’s highly recommended that an accounting system be implemented such as QuickBooks, Quicken, Peachtree or an Excel spreadsheet.
Assistance in Locating a Certified Public Accountant
There is no General Business License requirement in Texas.
Check with City Hall for licensing or zoning requirements or contact the State Licensing Office: www.license.state.tx.us/LicenseSearch/
For questions related to Austin zoning and licensing call Danny Brewer at Small Business Program, SBP, at the Business Solutions Center (BSC) 512.974.7772, First Floor, One TX Center
For information on liability, assets, vehicles and business disruption read the following IRS publication: www.irs.gov/publications/p334/ch08.html
If you are interested in opening your own restaurant go to this website: www.restaurantowner.com
Tools Every Entrepreneur Need
Personal Property Tax
All businesses and nonprofits must file a listing of their personal property as of January1st of each year. The form is due on or before the 15th. The form may be acquired from your county appraisal department or at: www.comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/taxforms/50-144.pdf
Buyers and Suppliers
Doing business with Dell: www.suppliers-connection.net/supplierconnection/participants.action
SCORE offers free and confidential face-to-face mentoring and email counseling at www.score.org. Local workshops are conducted to meet the needs of both start-up and existing businesses.
5524 Bee Cave Road, Building M
Austin, TX 78746
San Antonio SCORE
615 E. Houston St., Suite 298
San Antonio, TX 78205
Copies of this publication shall not be made without the express permission of the Austin-San Antonio SCORE Forum. For further information, contact SCORE Austin, 5524 Bee Caves Road, Building M, Austin, TX 78746.